Intuition (Mind)

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The center third of Education (1890), a stained glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, located in Linsly-Chittenden Hall at Yale University.
It depicts Science (personified by Devotion, Labor, Truth, Research and Intuition) and Religion (personified by Purity, Faith, Hope, Reverence and Inspiration) in harmony, presided over by the central personification of "Light·Love·Life".

Intuition a phenomenon of the mind described as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.[1] The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri translated as consider or from late middle English word intuit to contemplate.[2] Intuition is often interpreted with varied meaning from intuition being glimpses of greater knowledge[3] to only a function of mind; however, processes by which and why they happen typically remain mostly unknown to the thinker, as opposed to the view of rational thinking.

Intuition has been subject of discussion from ancient philosophy to modern psychology, also a topic of interest in various religions and esoteric domains, as well as a common subject of writings.[4] and is often misunderstood & misinterpreted with instinct, truth, belief, meaning and other subjects. The right brain is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as aesthetic or generally creative abilities.[5][6][7] Some scientists have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery.[8]

Intuition in Philosophy[edit]

Philosophy of the mind is one of the main branches in philosophy which deals the concept of intuition, Intuition has been dealt with both Eastern & Western philosophers in great details, understanding and definitions have been variying in nature and often confusingly mistreated with words like truth, belief, meaning and others with intuition.[9]

Intuition in Eastern Philosophy[edit]

In East Intuition is mostly intertwined with religion and spirtuality. there exists no one definitive meaning of intuition. various meaning, interpretations and deduction have been done out of religious texts and there meaning.[10]


In Hinduism various philosophers have tried to decipher the Vedic and other esoteric texts & have brought about various interpretation.

Sri Aurobindo finds humans are evolutionary beings who currently are not fully developed and are only in transitional period, Intuition currently in human beings are just outer rims and only glimpses of wider & higher self knowing knowledge beyond human intelligence, a knowledge where there is no division between the knowledge and the know er and where understanding of reality is in its entirety, currently he finds the mind often twists and always diminishes the quality of knowledge from intuition. He finds that with time intuition will be the main function of human mind, thought and thinking would become a secondary activity of the mind. He also goes on to suggest the possible ways that one can try to achieve this state.[3]

Osho finds consciousness of human beings to be in increasing order from basic animal instincts to intelligence and intuition, and humans being constantly living in that conscious state often moving between this states depending on there affinity and he also suggests living in the state of intuition is one of the ultimate aim of humanity.[11]

Advaitha vedanta (a school of thought) finds intuition is kind of experience through which one can come in contact and experience Brahman [12]


Buddhism finds intuition being a faculty in the mind of immediate knowledge & puts the term intuition beyond mental process of thinking, as it finds the intellect would never know about itself and cannot go beyond its function. Various excercises and ways have also been mentioned to develop ones Intuition ability called kó-an which would lead to states of satori. In parts of Zen Buddhism it is termed as a mental state between Universal mind and individual descrimating mind.[13][14]


In Islam there are various scholars with varied interpretation of intuition (often termed as hads, hitting correctly on a mark), sometimes relating the ability of having intuitive knowledge to prophet hood. Siháb al Din-al suhrawadi in his book philosophy of illumination (ishráq) finds intuition is a knowledge got through illumination and is of mystical in nature and also suggests mystical contemplation(mushãhada) on this to bring about correct judgements.[15] while Ibn Sīnā finds the ability of having intuition as a "prophetic capacity" terms it as a knowledge obtained without intentionally acquiring it. He finds regular knowledge is based on imitation while intuitive knowledge as based on intellectual certitude.[16]

Intuition in Western Philosophy[edit]

Papirus Oxyrhynchus, with fragment of Plato's Republic

In west Intuition does not apear as seperate field of study, and early mention and definition can be traced back to Plato, in his book Republic he tries to define intuition as a fundamental capacity of human reason to comprehend the true nature of reality.[17] In his discussion with Meno & Phaedo describes it as a Pre-existing knowledge residing in soul of eternity, and a phenomenon by which one becomes conscious of pre-existing knowledge and he provides an example of mathematical truths to describe that they are not arrived at by reasoning but a knowledge already present or in a dormant form and accessible to our intuitive capacity, This concept by Plato is also sometimes referred to as anamnesis. The study was later continued by his followers.[18]

In his book Meditations on first philosophy, Descartes refers to a intuition as a preexisting knowledge gained through rational reasoning or discovering truth of a thing through thinking about it, this definition is commonly referred to as rational intuition.[19] While later philosphers, such as Hume, whose interpretation of Intuition has been termed as ambigious as he claims intuition to be a recognition of relations (relation of time and place and causation) while he states that "the resemblance" (recognition of relations) "will strike the eye" (which would not require further examination but goes on to state) "or rather in mind" attributing intuition to power of mind which goes against the theory of empiricism.[20][21]

Immanuel Kant finds intuition is thought of as basic sensory information provided by the cognitive faculty of sensibility (equivalent to what might loosely be called perception). Kant held that our mind casts all of our external intuitions in the form of space, and all of our internal intuitions (memory, thought) in the form of time.,[22] Intuitionism is a position advanced by Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer in philosophy of mathematics derived from Kant's claim that all mathematical knowledge is knowledge of the pure forms of the intuition - that is, intuition that is not empirical. Intuitionistic logic was devised by Arend Heyting to accommodate this position (and has been adopted by other forms of constructivism in general). It is characterized by rejecting the law of excluded middle: as a consequence it does not in general accept rules such as double negation elimination and the use of reductio ad absurdum to prove the existence of something.

Intuitions are customarily appealed to independently of any particular theory of how intuitions provide evidence for claims, and there are divergent accounts of what sort of mental state intuitions are, ranging from mere spontaneous judgment to a special presentation of a necessary truth.[23] However, in recent years a number of philosophers, especially George Bealer have tried to defend appeals to intuition against Quinean doubts about conceptual analysis.[24] A different challenge to appeals to intuition has recently come from experimental philosophers, who argue that appeals to intuition must be informed by the methods of social science.

The metaphilosophical assumption that philosophy depends on intuitions has recently been challenged by some philosophers. Timothy Williamson has argued that intuition plays no special role in philosophy practice, and that skepticism about intuition cannot be meaningfully separated from a general skepticism about judgment. On this view, there are no qualitative differences between the methods of philosophy and common sense, the sciences or mathematics.[25]

Intuition in psychology[edit]

In Jungian psychology[edit]

In Carl Jung's theory of the ego, described in 1916 in Psychological Types, intuition was an "irrational function", opposed most directly by sensation, and opposed less strongly by the "rational functions" of thinking and feeling. Jung defined intuition as "perception via the unconscious": using sense-perception only as a starting point, to bring forth ideas, images, possibilities, ways out of a blocked situation, by a process that is mostly unconscious.

Jung said that a person in whom intuition was dominant, an "intuitive type", acted not on the basis of rational judgment but on sheer intensity of perception. An extraverted intuitive type, "the natural champion of all minorities with a future", orients to new and promising but unproven possibilities, often leaving to chase after a new possibility before old ventures have borne fruit, oblivious to his or her own welfare in the constant pursuit of change. An introverted intuitive type orients by images from the unconscious, ever exploring the psychic world of the archetypes, seeking to perceive the meaning of events, but often having no interest in playing a role in those events and not seeing any connection between the contents of the psychic world and him- or herself. Jung thought that extraverted intuitive types were likely entrepreneurs, speculators, cultural revolutionaries, often undone by a desire to escape every situation before it becomes settled and constraining—even repeatedly leaving lovers for the sake of new romantic possibilities. His introverted intuitive types were likely mystics, prophets, or cranks, struggling with a tension between protecting their visions from influence by others and making their ideas comprehensible and reasonably persuasive to others—a necessity for those visions to bear real fruit.[26]

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), first published in 1944, attempted to provide an empirical method of identifying a person's dominant ego function, loosely in terms of Carl Jung's theory. Beginning in the 1960s, scientists performed studies to see if MBTI results were consistent with the assumed theory that Jungian functions, in the form adopted and simplified by Kathryn Brigs and Isabel Briggs Myers, exist and conflict in such a way that one of them must be dominant and the others suppressed. Every study has found that instead of people's MBTI scores clustering around two opposite poles, such as intuition vs. sensation, with few people scoring in the middle, people's scores actually cluster around the middle of each scale in a bell curve. This suggests that the Myers-Briggs conception of Jungian polarities do not exist. Most contemporary psychological research rejects the existence of Jungian functions and the MBTI's ability to tell which function is dominant.[27][28][29][30]

In other psychological theories[edit]

In more-recent psychology, intuition can encompass the ability to know valid solutions to problems and decision making. For example, the recognition primed decision (RPD) model explains how people can make relatively fast decisions without having to compare options. Gary Klein found that under time pressure, high stakes, and changing parameters, experts used their base of experience to identify similar situations and intuitively choose feasible solutions. Thus, the RPD model is a blend of intuition and analysis. The intuition is the pattern-matching process that quickly suggests feasible courses of action. The analysis is the mental simulation, a conscious and deliberate review of the courses of action.[31]

According to the renowned neuropsychologist and neurobiologist Roger Wolcott Sperry though, intuition is a right-brain activity while factual and mathematical analysis is a left-brain activity.[32]

The reliability of one's intuition depends greatly on past knowledge and occurrences in a specific area. For example, someone who has had more experiences with children will tend to have a better instinct or intuition about what they should do in certain situations with them. This is not to say that one with a great amount of experience is always going to have an accurate intuition (because some can be biased); however, the chances of it being more reliable are definitely amplified.[33]

Empathic accuracy[edit]

Main article: Empathic accuracy

Empathic accuracy is a term in psychology that refers to how accurately one person (usually designated the perceiver) can infer the thoughts and feelings of another person (usually designated the target). It was first introduced in conjunction with a new research method by psychologists William Ickes and William Tooke in 1988.[34] It is similar to the term accurate empathy, which psychologist Carl Rogers had previously introduced in 1957.[35] Empathic accuracy is an important aspect of what William Ickes has called "everyday mind reading."[36]

Contrary to popular understanding women do not seem to possess empathic abilities that men do not have. In fact, it is claimed that anyone has the potential to develop intuition as a skill set, if desired.[37] However research by William Ickes has shown that women are susceptible to stereotypes, and try harder in situations where they would expect to do better. In situations where they are unaware that this is expected, no improved performance is found.

Studies and claims[edit]

Dismissing the notion that intuitive impulses arise supernaturally, one is left to assume they originate with the many innate human senses. Remnants of perception, such as a movement occurring out of the "corner of your eye" or subtle sound that would normally be ignored as background noise, could occur simultaneously. While these events could be filtered as irrelevant by the mind, their coincidental synchronicity could lead to sudden assumptions about one's surroundings, such as the feeling of being watched or followed.

Intuitive abilities were quantitatively tested at Yale University in the 1970s. While studying nonverbal communication, researchers noted that some subjects were able to read nonverbal facial cues before reinforcement occurred.[38] In employing a similar design, they noted that highly intuitive subjects made decisions quickly but could not identify their rationale. Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of nonintuitive subjects.[39]

Colloquial usage[edit]

Intuition, as a gut feeling based on experience, has been found to be useful for business leaders for making judgement about people, culture and strategy.[40] Law enforcement officers often claim to observe suspects and immediately "know" that they possess a weapon or illicit narcotic substances, which could also be action of instincts. Often unable to articulate why they reacted or what prompted them at the time of the event, they sometimes retrospectively can plot their actions based upon what had been clear and present danger signals. Such examples liken intuition to "gut feelings" and when viable illustrate preconscious activity.[41]


Intuition Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named in appreciation of the role of scientific intuition for the advancement of human knowledge.[42]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "intuition". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "intuition". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Aurobindo, Sri. The synthesis of yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo ashram trust. pp. 799–800. ISBN 978-0-9415-2465-0. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Peter Steinfels Beliefs The New York Times, July 13, 1996.
  5. ^ Converting Words into Pictures--Reading Comprehension Guide--Academic Support.
  6. ^ "Left/Right Processing". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  7. ^ "Right-Brain Hemisphere". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  8. ^ Gerald Holton, Yehuda Elkana. Albert Einstein: Historical and Cultural Perspectives, Dover Publications, July 1997, p. 97. ISBN 0-486-29879-5 "The workings of intuition transcend those of the intellect, and as is well known, innovation is often a triumph of intuition over logic."
  9. ^ Raymond DePaul, Michael; M. Ramsey, William. "one prevelant misuse of Intuition". Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry. England: Rowman & littlefield publisher Inc. p. 84. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Leaman, Oliver (2000). Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings. London: Routledge. pp. 5–40. ISBN 0-415-17357-4. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  11. ^ osho, Bhagwan. Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic. New York: osho international foundation. pp. 10–20. ISBN 0-312-27567-6. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  12. ^ M. Indich, William. Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta. varanasi: Motilal banarisdas. pp. 8–10. ISBN 81-208-1251-4. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Humphreys, Christmas. A Popular Dictionary of Buddhism. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-98616-4. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Conners, Shawn. Zen Buddhism - The Path to Enlightenment. Texas: El paso trust. p. 81. ISBN 1-934255-97-1. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Lawson, Todd. Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim Thought. London: I.B touris co ltd. pp. 210–225. ISBN 1-85043-470-0. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Kalin, Ibrahim. Knowledge in Later Islamic Philosophy: Mulla Sadra on Existence, Intellect, and Intuition. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 155–160. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Plato: Education and the Value of Justice". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Klein, Jacob. A Commentary on Plato's Meno. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 103–127. ISBN 0-226-43959-3. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  19. ^ L. Mursell, James. "The Function of Intuition in Descartes' Philosophy of Science". The Philosophical Review. 4 28. USA: Duke University Press. pp. 391–401. 
  20. ^ Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. The Floating Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781775410676. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  21. ^ A. Johnson, Oliver. The Mind of David Hume: A Companion to Book I of A Treatise of Human Nature. The Floating Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-252-02156-8. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Immanuel Kant (1787) "Critique of Pure Reason", p35 et seq.
  23. ^ M. Lynch "Trusting Intuitions", in P. Greenough and M. Lynch (ed) Truth and Realism, pp. 227-38.
  24. ^ G. Bealer "Intuition and The Autonomy of Philosophy" in M. Depaul and W. Ramsey (eds) Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role In Philosophical Inquiry 1998, pp. 201-239.
  25. ^ Williamson, Timothy (2008) "The Philosophy of Philosophy"
  26. ^ C.G. Jung. Psychological Types. Bollingen Series XX, Volume 6, Princeton University Press, 1971.
  27. ^ Barbara Engler, Personality Theories: An Introduction, 8th ed., Cengage Learning (2008), p. 86. "Scientifically oriented psychologists…, in spite of the widespread use of the MBTI, tend to largely ignore Jungian concepts."
  28. ^ Robert R. McCrae and Paul T. Costa, Jr. "Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality", Journal of Personality, 1989 Mar;57(1):17-40.
  29. ^ David J. Pittenger, "The Utility of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." Review of Educational Research, Vol. 63, No. 4 (Winter, 1993), pp. 467–488.
  30. ^ Tammy L. Bess and Robert J. Harvey. "Bimodal Score Distributions and the MBTI: Fact or Artifact?" Journal of Personality Assessment, Feb. 2002, Vol. 78 Issue 1, pp. 176–186. "Unfortunately, at least with respect to the traditional preference-score method of scoring the MBTI, research has consistently shown that the bimodal score distributions implied by the 'type' view of personality are not typically present in large, unselected populations of examinees."
  31. ^ Klein, Gary. Intuition At Work. Random House, NY, NY. January, 2003.
  32. ^ "Allen Chuck Ross, "Brain Hemispheric Functions and the Native American," ''Journal of American Indian Education'', August 1989". 1982-04-09. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  33. ^ Eugene Sadler-Smith. Inside Intuition. 2008.
  34. ^ Ickes, W., & Tooke, W. (1988). The observational method: Studying the interactions of minds and bodies. In S. Duck, D.F. Hay, S.E. Hobfoll, W. Ickes, & B. Montgomery (Eds.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (pp. 79-97). Chichester: Wiley.
  35. ^ Rogers, C. R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95–103.
  36. ^ Ickes, W. (2003). Everyday mind reading: Understanding what other people think and feel. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
  37. ^ Chauran, Alexandra (2012). So You Want to Be a Psychic Intuitive. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 0738730653. 
  38. ^ AJ Giannini, J Daood,MC Giannini, R Boniface, PG Rhodes. Intellect versus intuition--dichotomy in the reception of nonverbal communication.Journal of General Psychology. 99:19-24,1978.
  39. ^ AJ Giannini, ME Barringer, MC Giannini, RH Loiselle. Lack of relationship between handedness and intuitive and intellectual (rationalistic) modes of information processing. Journal of General Psychology. 111:31-37 1984.
  40. ^
  41. ^ Anthony J. Pinizzotto, PhD, Edward F. Davis, MA, and Charles E. Miller III Emotional/rational decision making in law enforcement (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Free Online Library, 2004.
  42. ^ Intuition Peak. SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica.

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